The Mobile menagerie revealed

Mobile telecommunications research

Are you a Magpie or an Elephant? A Sophisticat or a Playa? No, this is not a fancy dress contest, but the new mobile landscape emerging from research into South African cellphone users.The Mobility 2006 research project, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Virgin Mobile, First National Bank and Verizon Business, has identified six clear market segments that explain the mobile habits of South Africans. A nationally representative response base of 1152 South Africans was interviewed on cellular usage habits, needs, desires and intentions.

“The size of the sample and the extent to which it was representative of all South Africans enabled us for the first time to produce a clear distinction between different categories of user,” said Peter Searll, head of Dashboard Fast Forward Research, in presenting the findings at World Wide Worx’s Mobility 2006 Conference in Johannesburg today.

Searll also developed the character set that represent the segments, in collaboration with Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.

“The most obvious difference between the Grassroots and the Lizards, the Playas and the Magpies, and the Sophisticats and the Elephants,” said Goldstuck, “is in the amount they spend on their cell phones every month, as well as the likelihood that they have monthly contracts with a cellular service provider.”

At the bottom of the cellular pyramid is the largest group, the Grassroots, making up 45% of the market, but representing only R109 a month in cellphone expenditure. This makes for about a quarter of overall spending on cell phones in South Africa. This group is also the least likely to be on contract, as well as the least likely to change networks.

Next up we meet the Lizards, who have no network loyalty whatsoever, and will shed their skin at the drop of a special offer. They spend on average R113 a month on their cellphones, but make up only 8% of the market, and 4% of overall spending.

The Playas are the gamers, the students, the MMS crowd, always ready for the next upgrade, ready for Mobile TV, but not sure they can afford either. The average R161 they spend a month on their phones is as far as their budgets will stretch, but that makes for a hefty 19% chunk of the networks’ revenue.

The Magpies love anything that shines, with bells and whistles aplenty. They spend almost the same as the Playas, but always on the lookout for starter pack special offers. Into their cellphone cameras, music players and radios, all of them have watched TV on their phones, and are the most ready of all to make a purchase via the phone.

The fifth level is occupied by the Sophisticats, making up 11% of the market, but their average R284 cellular spend per month makes for 16% of overall spending. They are big on data, quick with an SMS and most likely to have downloaded content. Most have Internet access on their phones, and they know how to use it – mainly because they also have the Internet at home. And they love cellphone banking.

The sixth and highest level consists of the big spenders, and the heavyweight users. In other words, they are the Elephants of the mobile world. They comprise only 9% of the market, but their average monthly spend of R729 means they make for 33% of all cellular spending. All of them are on contract, and all have a bank account. They are also the only segment where a proportion of users have their phone bill paid by their employers.

No wonder two in three got a new phone in the past year! They are most likely to have Internet on their phones, and most likely to have used – despite not being sophisticated in their use of the cellphone. They don’t like Mobile TV, and they don’t use advanced features. Having by far the oldest average age may well have something to do with it.

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